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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Honesty in Politics: Oxymoron or Obligation?

Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch has published a very important article on honesty in politics entitled "Is the 'High Road' Closed to Politicians?"  

Here is his closing statement:

"It is no wonder that the No. 1 reason non-voters give for failing to cast a ballot is lack of honesty in politics, or that dishonesty is voters’ top concern when it comes to government accountability.
Politicians need to be held accountable for their honesty just as the rest of Canada’s citizens are every day. It’s time for our political leaders to prove their worth by passing a strong honesty-in-politics law, giving voters a reason to trust them again."
Albertans have told us in research done under Reboot Alberta that Integrity, Honesty, Accountability and Transparency are the most vital values we want in our politicians.  We also know we are not getting the necessary commitment to those values under the current political culture.
The all to common responses of citizens to this democratic deficit has been to withdraw from politics and forfeit our responsibilities of making an informed and active choice about who we want to govern us.  In Alberta this is especially true when 60% of us can't even be bothered to cast a ballot to state our preference for how we should be governed and by whom.
The Edmonton Sun has run a very insightful Editorial today on the impact and danger of ideology over evidence and dogma over ideas.  It really sets out the changing dynamics in Alberta politics in a way I see and hopeful for  real change to happen.
Trust in democracy, our politics and our political culture is not a given any more.  People just don't trust our institutions any more - because most of them have done so much to betray our trust.  Trust is a judgment call that measures the reliability of someone to act and perform as expected and will not fail us, let us down or mislead us.
The political culture of spin and messaging is all about deception dynamics that create distrust as a result.  We need to insist on integrity, honesty, accountability and transparency from our politicians, the political parties, the institutions we rely on to make our society function like the media.  We also have to rise up to the responsibility of citizenship and not be intimidated by fear or coercion of authorities that use bullying and intimidation to compel compliance. 
We need to actualize the spirit of Reboot Alberta and as citizens take back Control of our democracy by informed active participation in politics.  We need to create viable political Alternatives to the one-party state we have let dominate our democracy in Alberta.  We need to Delete the power of those in politics for personal power broker reasons and not in the spirit of servant leaders.
We need new faces, and a fresh start and a return to moderate progressive policies that are based on integrity, honesty, accountability.  We need an alternative like the Alberta Party to shape up and shake up the system that has long since stopped serving the greater good.